Education About Asia: Online Archives

China From the Inside

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DIRECTED BY JONATHAN LEWIS
DISTRIBUTED BY PBS HOME VIDEO
DVD, 240 MINUTES, COLOR, 2006

Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Johnson

How shall we describe the scope, pace, and consequences of change in contemporary China for students in American classrooms? China from the Inside, a four-hour Jonathan Lewis documentary that originally aired on PBS in January 2007, is a valuable resource for teachers who embrace this challenge. Lewis’ goal was to obtain candid perspectives on politics, gender, and the environment.

The four episodes of the documentary, “Power and the People,” “Women of the Country,” “Shifting nature,” and “Freedom and Justice,” provide faces and voices of those wrestling with the major issues, humanizing the statistics. As the introduction to each episode reminds us, Lewis and his crew had impressive access to both Communist Party officials and dissident intellectuals, along with workers and farmers for whom the rewards of economic development are often at best attenuated.